Florida’s Numonics has been dropping quality music left and right at a frenetic pace. We finally caught up to the producer to find out his secrets, what’s coming up, and much more in this exclusive interview.
You have grown a lot as a producer over the past few years. How do you feel about your growth?
I’m really proud of it. I never wanted to be placed in a box creatively. I’ve been able to add things I never thought I would be able to do like play guitar and bass. With the sampling, I’m able to merge it into a completely different thing now. I gauge my success on if I’m getting better or not. The last few years have been a lot of progression for me and now I feel like I’m coming into my stride as a producer.
How do you decide what you want artists and fans to hear from you now?
I really base everything off of who I’m working with. There are things I won’t play for people because I think I’ve outgrown that sound. It also has to do with the drums, if it’s something old and not as good as what I have. I work with J Nics and his pocket is in 75-80 bpms. Those are the ones I’ll play for him. There could be something I made that’s great, but really it’s the new stuff I’m trying to push, that way the people who have been following me will know what I’ve changed, but for loose joints, I’ll use whatever’s good.
How does a Numonics beat come together?
It could be a good hour or two hours trying to find the right sample. I’ve always used Logic. I’ve always been on the computer. I have so much respect for people who use the hardware, but I came up on Logic and Native Instruments. Really, the process is just finding the right sample. From there I try to figure out the key range of it and then build from there on up. Now it’s a little more interesting because I’ll pick up the guitar and record straight into there. It’s a lot of fun what you can do with the technology. I never thought I’d be able to record with my guitar making a hip-hop beat. It’s great how it all works together. Also, a whole lot of weed smoking, but you’ve got to get creative somehow, right?
Do you ever make beats for a specific project or do you just make beats and see who takes what?
It’s more the latter. I’m fortunate to work with great MCs and I know what I make will find a home eventually. With REKS, especially, he has that machine gun flow. He’s very aggressive in his style and I know if I make a beat with a higher tempo that has that feel to it, I know I gotta give it to him. Nics and REKS, I know when I have to give them a beat I’ve made. But they’re not always made with someone in particular in mind. I know I have to make at least four beats a day and wherever they go, they go. I’ve built a great network of artists and I’m very fortunate for that. Whoever I do give the beat to, they have to do it justice.
You’re also working on a project with J57 from Brown Bag All-Stars. How’s that coming?
Great. I love his production and what he’s doing. I had a great time doing my first compilation and this has that same feel. We have a lot of different artists like Black Rob, Blame One, all of Brown Bag…We have a laundry list of artists on there, like a J Nics and Dynas track. We have a lot of different, great people on there. Scholars on there, Tom Green from New York. We have a lot of great artists on there. There’s going to be fifteen tracks on there, half produced by J and half produced by myself. I think it’s going to be a very well-received project. We both have a lot going on. The meat and potatoes is there. It just has to be mixed and mastered at this point. I’ve never done another album with a producer and I know he hasn’t either, so it’s an interesting project to work on.
How do you balance all of the different projects you’re working on?
It’s definitely a juggling act. Right now I’m working on another five or six albums that are in their final stages where they just need to be mixed and mastered. I have an album with Koncept, a guy named Sims. I have a project with George Young that’s going to be coming out soon. It is difficult, but I do try to compartmentalize everything. Right when I decide to put a release date, I focus on that. Fortunately I have other people that can put the finishing touches on it, like Hazardis Soundz does my mixing and mastering. I’m always working. It’s definitely interesting. I don’t recommend it for anybody to try and do all these projects at once. It’s kind of who I am, personality-wise. It’s difficult, but I’m always working and I feel like that’s how you have to be in today’s age, in hip-hop in particular. You always have to be working on something and getting your name out there. I look at Statik Selektah and I’m a real big fan of his music and him always working is how he got to the level he’s at.
How much time goes into working on beats and music versus marketing and that kind of stuff?
They’re about equal. I wish I could do more of the music, but that’s just how it is. I have a certain business acumen and I have to take advantage of that. I would rather do that myself. You do have to spend a lot of time sending out emails and all that fun stuff, trying to get records placed. It’s a 50/50 marriage. If you don’t treat it like a business, it’s not going to work out for you.
How do you decide when to work with an artist or take on a project versus passing because there’s not enough time?
Really, if I’m going into a project, anything is fair game. I want to make sure that we have some real heavy hitters in an album. When we’re first preparing an album, that’s where I want to put the heaters.
The REKS Rebelutionary project did well. What was it like working with him on that project?
It was great. We have a real genuine friendship and we see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. I always wanted to do a real politically-themed album because I have strong beliefs. He’s on that same wavelength and he’s phenomenal. He’s a top 5 MC and I don’t care what anyone says. He’s also very efficient when he records. To be in the same room and mix all those records too, it was great. He’s an underappreciated MC and he’s truly incredible and you really get a sense of that by being in the studio with him. That’s where he really drives the point home, that’s he’s a professional.
Are you happy with the finished product too?
I’m very happy with it. I think we accomplished what our goal was. It’s a real good album in the sense that it’s long enough and it has something on there for everyone. Some of the messages that REKS conveys on there are incredible. I wish more people could have heard “Unlearn.” I’m absolutely loving that song. The video came out really well. But really, no regrets for how it came out sonically.
What challenges do you face producing in Florida when a majority of the artists you work with aren’t there?
I’ve been living in Florida for so long and I love it. But I travel a lot and the beauty of the internet allows for you to work with people across the globe. That’s what I try to do, work my digital hustle. My work has really been through referrals and references and what I’ve done. I always look at it from the sense that I want to work with artists from other countries and if I work with an artist in California, they introduce me to their network of rappers. As long as I travel a couple of times a year, I get to see everyone. It’s definitely a challenge and you get to work with a lot of different people. It’s hard to be in the same room with people when you’re not even in the same state, but I really wouldn’t live anywhere else. Florida has a great, diverse music scene and it does provide a unique challenge of making it happen on a national level. I try to make it happen and a lot of people do the same. The quality of women and weather here, you can’t go wrong.
What are you most excited about releasing with everything you have going on?
I like to do different stuff from time to time. I did a multi-genre album with George Young. It’s all instrumental with the exception of a couple of songs. We did everything from drum and bass to hip-hop. I’m really excited about that. The Dynas album and the REKS EP that’s coming up. I have a lot of great hip-hop albums coming out and I’m excited to see what people think about those. I’m really excited to see what people think about this instrumental album too. It’s been an interesting challenge and it’s not a hip-hop album. I’m really excited about it and it goes back to the profession. This shows me playing guitar on it and we have a lot of different sounding tracks on there that I think people are going to enjoy.
If you could pick a dream project to take on, what would it be?
It always changes. Right now I would love to do something with Raphael Saadiq. He gets the traditional soul sound that can be made now. Mostly what I listen to outside of hip-hop and my own stuff is soul and funk. This is a guy that’s contemporary. He’s had a pretty interesting career and I would love to do something like that. I know how’s writing music and sampling. I would love to do something with Raphael Saadiq. Also Pharoahe Monch or Royce Da 5’9”. There’s so many great MCs out there, but as far as a fellow musician, I would love to work with Raphael Saadiq.